Monday in the 13th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Homing of the Homeless
Readings: Genesis 18:16-33; Psalms 103:1b-2, 3-4, 8-9, 10-11; Matthew 8:18-22
What an impressive and awe-inspiring scene we have in today’s first reading, when a mere mortal dares to stand before the eternal God to plead for mercy. And how consoling it is too that God should be so willing to listen to human intercession and to grant so many concessions. Yet, in spite of Abraham’s persistence, and in spite of the Lord’s compassion and love, we all know how the story of Sodom ends. Not even ten just men can be found in the city. On the contrary, the people of Sodom even make so bold as to attempt to abuse the angels that God sends into their midst, thus prompting God to destroy the whole city and its inhabitants in a shower of fire and brimstone. Only Lot and his family are spared (except for Lot's wife). Such are the limits of human intervention. We cannot save ourselves, let alone one another. And our impotence is perhaps brought out quite strikingly in the last line of the first reading: when he had finished talking to Abraham the Lord went away, and Abraham returned home. For all the intimacy in the contact and conversation between Abraham and God, they both still end up going their separate ways.
Even so, the psalmist is right to say that God will not be angry for ever. The compassion and love of God is such that God actually leaves God’s heavenly home in search of straying humanity. Isn’t this why Jesus says of himself that he has nowhere to lay his head? Isn’t this because, in Christ, God demonstrates the full extent of God’s mercy by choosing to remain by our side even when we are far away from home? As is written in Romans 5:20, where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
Seen in this light, we understand better Jesus’ call to follow in his footsteps in leading an apparently homeless existence. This is not an inhuman call to shun all contact with others, or to avoid all familial ties and emotional attachments. Rather is it an invitation to make our home solely in Christ and, through him, in the Father whose desire to be with his children causes him to leave home in search of them.
In Jesus, the God-become-human, we finally have an intercessor who actually gets the job done. In Christ, we can finally be united with God our Father in our heavenly home.
How are we being invited to follow in his steps today?